After LIFE: Thanks to AgingResearchBiobank, groundbreaking study data continues to inspire us
Maintaining the ability to walk without assistance and perform daily activities is essential for health and independence as we age. Conducted from 2010 to 2013, the NIA-supported Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) study examined whether a long-term structured physical activity program was more effective than a health education program in reducing the risk of major mobility disability in sedentary older adults. LIFE showed that a structured physical activity program — a goal of walking 150 minutes per week plus strength, flexibility and balance training — reduced the risk of mobility loss and death.
LIFE’s impressive accomplishments were summed up in a review article and further discussed in an editorial. Its findings — that following the physical activity program for an average of 2.6 years reduced mobility loss risk by 18 percent — have shaped several U.S. and international recommendations for physical activity in older adults, including the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
Now, 7 years after the study ended, data from LIFE is continuing to advance the field. A treasure trove of data from the LIFE study is available from the NIA AgingResearchBiobank. The availability of these samples and data presents considerable scientific and clinical opportunities for trainees, junior and senior investigators, and clinicians who can use LIFE’s biospecimens and related data to answer additional research questions that go beyond those related to maintaining independence and mobility as we age.
In the past year, the AgingResearchBiobank has distributed more than 17,000 LIFE biospecimens and related study data to qualified researchers. LIFE samples and data are being used in ongoing investigations in the U.S. and abroad. These are just a few examples of the exciting projects now underway:
- Investigators at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Italy are assessing whether participants in the LIFE trial saw a reduction in the number and/or types of medications they were taking while following a structured physical activity program. Any medication changes among participants who became more active may be indicative of accompanying changes in chronic disease severity or progression.
- Researchers at Rx-Epitome, LLC in Gainesville, Florida, are analyzing LIFE data to understand whether pneumonia can increase both physical and cognitive frailty. The investigators believe that the connection between pneumonia and frailty may be stronger than typical frailty prevention targets like heart disease or stroke.
- A team at the University of British Columbia in Canada is examining whether the beneficial effects of an exercise program are more pronounced in female carriers of the APOE4 gene (a gene linked to Alzheimer’s disease) and how biological sex and APOE4 may affect exercise’s effect on cognitive performance and hippocampal volume.
- An ongoing study at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is investigating how plasma concentrations of circulating proteins or polypeptides (known as “rejuvenating factors”) relate to age-related conditions like sarcopenia, lower extremity physical performance, and loss of mobility and cognition.
- Mayo Clinic investigators are studying whether circulating concentrations of specific growth and differentiation factors and proteins secreted by senescent cells can predict health outcomes, and if they can be altered by physical activity. These proteins may be targets for innovative therapies to reduce aging-related disability and disease.
LIFE is a great example of the type of well‐coordinated, rigorously conducted randomized trial that NIA supports. NIA is committed to building and sharing these quality data and sample resources as we work to advance evidence-based medicine and improve the well-being of older adults. Please visit the AgingResearchBiobank online and let us know if you have questions or comments below!